SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ¿ Cosmetics company Bare Escentuals Inc. said Wednesday its first-quarter profit tumbled 35 percent as consumers pulled back spending in the downturn. For the three months ended March 29, the company earned $16.7 million, or 18 cents per share, compared with $25.8 million, or 28 cents per share, a year earlier. The performance nevertheless beat Wall Street expectations. On average, analysts polled by Thomson One were expecting quarterly earnings of 14 cents per share on $118 million in revenue. Leslie Blodgett, the company's chief executive officer, said in a statement that cost cutting will be "top of the mind" at the company in the challenging economic environment. Sales for the first quarter of the year were $124.3 million, an 11 percent drop from $140.4 million in the first quarter of 2008. Direct-to-consumer sales in North America fell 27 percent to $35.2 million, while retail sales slipped 6 percent to $73.2 million. International sales gained 13 percent to $15.9 million. Shares of Bare Escentuals advanced 52 cents, or 8.5 percent, to close at $6.64 Monday in a rising market, but after hours they were off 2 cents at $6.62 after the earnings were released.